Uber’s relationship with its drivers has become increasingly labored, the company admitted on Tuesday, as it took a pledge to improve its service. The ride-sharing firm told the media some of its policies were “accidentally stacked against drivers”. In particular, drivers for the company will now have more ability to defend themselves against rider refunds and complaints. Uber also spoke about its continuing investigation into allegations of “toxic” working culture and sexual harassment.
The news follows the recent departure of Jeff Jones, the company’s President, who said the “approach and beliefs” at Uber were “irregular” with his own views. Part of Mr. Jones’s job at the company had been to manage the relationship between its drivers and the company. Mr. Jones held a Q+A session with drivers in February which provoked angry responses, one driver remarked: “The ONLY thing you made clear to the majority of us is that you don’t have ANY productive answers.”
Rachel Holt, the manager of Uber’s operations in Canada and the US, conceded that the firm had under-invested in the driver experience and that the firm was now “re-examining everything we do”. Last month, Uber’s fortified chief executive Travis Kalanick was recorded arguing with a driver about falling fares. The incident prompted Mr. Kalanick to admit he needed “help in leadership”. The company announced later that it was hiring a chief operating officer. Central to Uber’s plan to appease its drivers is giving more weight to their own defense in the face of customer complaints.
Ms. Holt mentioned the example of a driver in Toronto who had worked more than 8,000 trips but after receiving just three complaints was barred from using the service. Ms. Holt said drivers who had accumulated a long history of trips would be treated differently to a newer driver.
In February Uber was rocked by a former employee’s calamitous assessment of her time working at the company. She detailed several instances of sexual harassment and a culture that did not welcome women. In response, Uber announced it would launch an investigation led by Eric Holder, who served under President Barack Obama as attorney-general, the highest ranking police officer in the US. Uber’s new head of human resources, Liane Hornsey, said more than 100 “listening sessions” had taken place across the company. The company reiterated its promise to release a report on diversity at Uber by the end of this month.